I’ve always thought that Memorial Day was a somewhat conflicted holiday. We’re trying to memorialize all the soldiers who have died in action while at the same time heading for the beach, breaking out the barbecue and cracking open the beer to celebrate the official beginning of summer, the celebration getting much more attention than the memorial.
We do need to stop and think for a moment, however, about those who gave their lives for our freedoms. And even in wars that are not noble, it is no less noble to sacrifice for a cause you believe is worthy. For these we pay the greatest respect over the tragedies that took them away from us. Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends.
But there is another death that’s relevant and current to all of our everyday lives. That would be the death Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 4:10 when he writes, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” What would the death of Jesus that we carry around in our bodies be, if it’s not the sin and resulting death that killed Jesus on the cross? That would be our contribution to the death of Christ. And as long as we are in these bodies, we carry around the evidence of that — the evidence of our sin, and rebellion.
The problem we all face is that it still works. Our body of death that Jesus paid for on the cross and buried when He rose again is unfortunately still with us. We have to carry the thing around because it’s the only body we have down here until we get to heaven and receive our new one. And it still responds to the temptations of sin and the “wiles” of the devil. So we are involved in a continual battle of calling it dead and considering ourselves alive to Christ. That’s not automatic; we choose that, just as soldiers choose to work in a capacity they know could force them to give up their lives for their country. We choose all the time to listen to either this dead body we lug around, or to the life of Christ that is in us by faith. It’s a daily decision.
So this Memorial Day as you find your own way to honor those brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, also take some time to think about that body of death you carry around and bury it where it belongs. Say a memorial over it. Refuse to follow what has already been declared dead and choose to follow the new life of Christ that has been born in you by faith.
Make Memorial Day, and every day thereafter, a memorial to that dead thing and consider yourself risen with Christ, able to do what He calls you to do in loving God and your neighbor and in forgiving yourself and those who have sinned against you. It’s the incomparable life of Christ available to us all. Happy Memorial Day.